Low Carb Diets: A Brief History

“Conventional scientific opinion says that eating too many calories without doing enough exercise to burn them off again causes weight gain. But this prevailing energy balance model faces a fresh challenge from the carbohydrate-insulin model (CIM) following the publication of a new article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The CIM argues that it is the quality of the food a person eats — rather than the quantity — that determines whether a person will gain weight and eventually develop obesity. Consuming large quantities of processed and starchy carbohydrates in particular sustains a cascade of hormonal and metabolic changes that result in the storage of excess energy as fat.

Crucially, the CIM says that the urge to eat too many calories is a result of accumulating excess fat in the body, not its cause. This directly opposes the energy balance model.

So which model is correct? The answer has huge implications for the diets of billions of people, as well as the prospects of overcoming the obesity pandemic.

This week, Medical News Today spoke with several experts from both camps about the merits and shortcomings of each model. There is one thing that both models agree on: the sugars and refined grains that make up 42% of the calories in the U.S. diet should be drastically reduced.

To learn more about both models and the debate that rages around them, jump to “Obesity and weight loss: Why overall calorie intake may not be so important.”


Tim Snaith
Newsletter Editor, Medical News Today

What Does “Fattening” Mean?

Sally Feltner MS, PhDDiet and Health, The American Plate November 15, 2019 1 Minute

Spaghetti, Noodles, Tomatoes, Pasta

A term used for decades to describe foods that would make one gain weight was the expression of  “fattening”.

Moderate avoidance (though not totally responsible) of these foods became the conventional wisdom to help avoid weight gain and became a dieter’s mantra.  In fact, food history indicates that body-weight was relatively stable until about the late 1990’s in the United States. At that time, dietary advice had shifted to low-fat diets with the added disadvantage of food companies at the time replacing fat in their food products with more carbohydrate-containing foods.

Keep in mind- basic biochemistry tells us that all carbohydrates (except for dietary fiber) are eventually converted to glucose in the body to be used for energy.  We are further reminded that some carbs are referred to as “starchy” (bad) and others as “non starchy” (good ).

The following article further elucidates the term of what are now commonly referred to as “white foods” and refers to their state of processing – refined or unrefined and how they may participate in our current obesity epidemic.

CLICK HERE.

Does Your Liver Need a Cleanse?

“The liver is a unique organ in that it can regenerate and repair itself. That means there is a lot you can do to prevent and possibly reverse liver disease. There is a troubling trend of an increase in what is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) that is unrelated to alcohol intake.”

“No one – especially if they suspect or know they have liver disease should turn to detox supplements unless they are approved by their doctor. These product are not tested by the FDA, so the purity and amount of ingredients in them are unpredictable. Some may have compounds that may irritate the liver and do more damage.”  Why make the liver work harder? CLICK HERE.

Source:

How to Take Care of Your Liver, Consumer Reports On Health. September, 2021, Volume 33 Issue 9

How’s Your Immune System?

Nutrition and Your Immune System 

The ability of the immune system to fight disease declines with age. As it does, the incidence of infections, cancers, and autoimmune diseases increase and the effectiveness of immunizations decline. In turn, the presence of infections and chronic disease contributes to malnutrition.

Nutrient deficiencies are common in older adults, including deficiencies of zinc, iron, beta-carotene, folic acid and vitamins B6, B12, C, D, and E. Supplements of some of these individual nutrients have been shown to increase certain aspects of the immune response, but have not been shown to reduce mortality from infections. High doses of some nutrients, including zinc, copper, and iron, depressed immune function, so supplement should not contain more than 100% of the daily value. There is little evidence that “megadoses” (over the Daily Value) of any vitamin or mineral is necessary for optimum health.

CLICK HERE.

Processed Food and Gut Disorders?

October 12, 2018 By Yenny Rojas

It may surprise no one that the foods we eat (and don’t eat) affect the way our digestive system functions. For example, too much bread and not enough fiber can lead to constipation rather quickly. If your diet has consistently been undersupplied of certain proteins, minerals, or other needed nutrients, it can create disorder in your system. This isn’t just a problem for your digestive system; it can also cause problems with your skin, immune system, and respiratory system.

Common causes of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are inappropriate diets, a lack of exercise and inflammation anywhere along the length of the digestive tract. In addition to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), one of the most common GI disorders is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It’s a chronic condition that causes a variety of signs and symptoms, from mild to severe. While there’s no cure for IBS, dietary and lifestyle changes such as avoiding certain foods and decreasing stress levels can ease symptoms. These may include bloating, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, acid reflux, and nausea.

Because there are so many possible causes of GI disorders, they can be difficult to treat.

How Do Processed Foods Impair the GI Tract?

Processed foods are bad to eat for a number of reasons, including that they can contribute to GI disorders. The problems associated with processed foods include:

  • Low-fiber content that could unsettle digestion and aggravate existing GI symptoms
  • High levels of trans fats, which raises bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and increases gut inflammation
  • Additives like preservatives, sweeteners, bleaches or colorants, which can alter the balance of the microbiome of the gut, causing disease and dysfunction

Fiber is Your Friend

Fiber assists in the movement of materials through the digestive system. Processed foods are very low in fiber – so a diet high in processed foods can greatly increase your risk for GI disorders.

Consuming a high-fiber diet is an easy way to help avoid GI disorders or manage the symptoms of one. A diet with sufficient quantities of fiber – 25 to 30 grams a day is recommended to help normalize the digestive process, increasing the size of bowel movements and softening it.

This reduces the risk of hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticulosis). The type of fiber found in foods like beans, bran, and oats (soluble fiber) helps to reduce bad LDL cholesterol levels. In people with diabetes, soluble fiber has shown to slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. Fiber may also improve heart health by helping to reduce blood pressure and inflammation.

Foods that are high in fiber are more filling. You can eat less and stay satisfied longer, making it easier to obtain or maintain a healthy weight.

CLICK HERE.

The Blue Zones: A Short Course

Dan Beuttner has gathered some of the top scientists in the world to study these remarkable places called the Blue Zones  where many people live to 100 years or more. They not only live long, healthy lives, but serve as teachers to the rest of us on a series of “food rituals’ ‘ that along with other healthy lifestyle factors contribute to this scenario. 

In our evolutionary history, we as hunter-gatherers lived at a time where we sought calorie-loaded foods in order to simply survive. Needless, to say, many of us don’t have this added stress to simply feed our families. On the other hand, many of us in the world today are living in a time when obesity is now called a pandemic and we are faced with the possibility of dying from abundance and not scarcity. We refer to our food choices as part of a conglomerate of industries referred to as big Ag, big Food the Standard American Diet or more realistically as the SAD diet. 

What Can We Learn and How? 

Centenarians in the Blue Zones follow daily rituals around food and meals that help them stay on course – practicing them in your own lives are the keys to longevity. Here is a brief guideline. 

 MAKE BREAKFAST THE LARGEST MEAL OF THE DAY. 

“Include complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and plant or animal protein. 

Expand your choices beyond cereal or eggs. In certain Blue Zone countries, some include beans, tortillas, miso soup.”

COOK YOUR MEALS AT HOME. 

Plan and prep ingredients for dinner in the morning. Use your slow cooker often, so dinner cooks all day and is ready for you late afternoon. 

HARI HACHI BU 

Plan to stop eating when you’re close to 80% full, based on a 2500 year old Confucian adage and practiced by the Okinawans. “ Try saying it before a meal by simply pausing for a moment of silence or saying thanks is a way to recognize the appreciation of your food. 

FAST FASTS 

“Recent evidence shows that fasting, even for a day, can recalibrate insulin release, temporarily lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Research has suggested that calorie restriction may slow aging. 

Try eating only two meals a day; a big late-morning brunch and a second meal around 5 p.m.” 

  EAT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS 

“Most people in the Blue Zones often have three-hour dinner affairs with a succession of many small courses.  They never eat standing up or while driving. Avoid reading, watching TV or using your phone.”

Celebrate and Enjoy Food 

“We eat about 1100 meals a year. If we celebrate a couple of times a week and enjoy what we love to eat, that still leaves almost 1,000 meals a year to eat the Blue Zones way.”

 Pick one day of the week and make it your celebratory day to splurge on a meal with your favorite foods.” 

 Diets that use restrictions, limitations or deprivations never work.  

 Source: 

Dan Buettner. The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People, 2015,  

The Gut-Brain Connection: A New Concept?

CLICK HERE.

In the Mind-Gut Connection, Dr. Emeran Mayer, executive director of the Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience at UCLA, offers the cutting edge into this developing science, showing the full impact and complexity of how the brain, gut, and microbiome that lives inside the digestive tract communicate with one another. As he explains, the connection between the mind and the gut is bidirectional: the gut talks to the brain and the brain talks to the gut. When this communication is out of whack, major health problems can crop up in both the mind and the body, including food sensitivities and allergies, digestive disorders, obesity, depression, anxiety, and fatigue.”

Source: Emeran Mayer, MD. The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies impacts our Mood, Our Choices, and our Overall Health, 2016.

 

All About Whole Grains: 101

Glossary:

Legumes: plants in the pea or bean family, which produce an elongated pod containing large starchy seeds. Examples: green peas, kidney beans, and peanuts.

Whole Grain: The entire kernel of grain including the bran layers, the germ, and the endosperm.

Bran: The protective outer layers of whole grains. It is a concentrated source of dietary fiber.

Germ: The embryo or sprouting portion of a kernel of grain. It contains oil, protein, fiber, and vitamins

Endosperm: The largest portion of a kernel of grain. It is primarily starch and serves as a food supply for the sprouting seed.

Added Sugar: Sugars and syrups that have been added to foods during processing or preparation

Fiber: A mixture of indigestible cabohydrates and lignins that is found in plants.

During refining and processing steps, many of the nutrients and other healthy components (phytochemicals) of the kernel are lost. The whole grain includes the bran, the germ, and the endosperm (starch). In the body during digestion and absorption all sources of foods containing sugars and starches are converted eventually to glucose, thereby affecting blood glucose. Fiber is not digested for the most part thereby providing no energy source for the cells. The current theory is that some fibers can be digested by the bacteria found in the microbiome.

Note: If the bran and germ are removed during processing, look how much fiber is removed from the whole grain (about 18.3 grams). That leaves 4 grams in the endosperm.

Sugar and the Immune System?

Is our health declining? “The statistics are alarming. In 1960, one person in 100 had diabetes; today its one in eight. Experts are now predicting that by 2050, one person in three will suffer with the condition if the trend continues. Even worse, 70 percent of people who get diabetes will also develop heart disease.”

“Three generations of Americans have been raised on what is referred to as the “Standard American Diet” based on high-calorie, nutrient deficient, overly processed foods with the blame primarily on salt, fat, and sugar found in fast foods.”Sadly, we are now witnessing the long-term effects of those eating patterns and runaway rates of chronic illness.”

Source: Judith Finlayson. You Are What Your Grandparents Ate, 2019, page 58.

CLICK HERE.

A Cardiologist’s Diet?

“I often tell my patients at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center that diet is key. A focus on a plant-based diet, reducing saturated fat, and increasing fiber with vegetables and whole grains, has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels with or without the use of statins. Those levels can drop further by incorporating supplements like soluble fiber products or plant sterols and stanols.” M. Wesley Milks, MD.

Taking a statin? Show your doctor this post to discuss diet prevention strategies. Patients need diet along with statin advice. Please check with your doctor before beginning any dietary change. Doctors opinions are invaluable sources of advice (my opinion).

CLICK HERE.

Three Decades of Food Milestones: 1990- 2021

Three decades of Food Milestones 1990 – 2020

Food timelines are invaluable for taking a brief look at what has happened and how it has influenced our eating behaviors.

1990 Food labels mean something: the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act passes, requiring standardized nutrition labels on most food packages. The food industry is not happy; they particularly protest adding “Added Sugars” and win their case this time.

1992 King Arthur introduces white whole wheat flour, enabling bakers to make their whole grain baking healthier.  The United States Department of Agriculture releases the Food Guide  Pyramid, visually confirming nationwide carbohydrate domination with 6-11 servings of carbohydrates a day.  Carbs are not separated into refined vs. complex.

Snackwells low fat cookies are introduced and fly off shelves. Later, the “Snackwells affect becomes shorthand for all that is wrong with the low fat, high carb diet fad. People mistakenly assume you can eat all the refined carbs you want. 

1993 Chipotle Mexican Grill is founded in Denver, marking the beginning of the “fast casual restaurant” category. The TV Food Network (now the Food Network) premieres, elevating chefs like Bobby Flay to celeb status.

1994 the Food and Drug administration approves the first genetically modified food, the long shelf -lived Flavr Savr tomato, followed a year later by GMO canola, corn, soy beans and squash, marking the anti GMO movement. It was met with considerable safety concerns., especially in European countries.  

1996 The FDA approves Olestra, a fat – free fat substitute with the unfortunate side effect of inducing “anal leakage”. Lays Wow potato chips made with olestra even sport a warning label. After its demise in food processing, olestra found new life as an industrial lubricant.

1998 Sucralose, made from sugar but is noncaloric, is introduced but the obesity rate is not impressed by its contribution to sugar-free foods.

2002 low carb guru Robert Atkins, MD, releases Doctor Atkins New Diet Revolution,” establishing further the popularity of the low carb diet he promoted 30 years with his first book. This “diet” began to slowly replace the ill-advised low fat diet for “hardcore” dieters.

In other news, organic labels finally have more attention. The USDA national organic programs, Certified Organic Labeling, rules, some 12 years in the making, go into effect.

2004 Facebook arrives and enabling you to share what you had for breakfast with 1000 of your closest friends. Photos of foods (homeccoked, however, appear in many posts.

2006 in April, Michael Pollan releases the Omnivore’s Dilemma, making terms like food system, high fructose corn syrup and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) household words.

2007 The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) was a United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) research initiative to improve understanding of the microbial flora involved in human health and disease. Prebiotic and probiotics became familiar terms and the yogurt industry blossomed. Source: Wikipedia

2008 Chobani launches and the cult of Greek yogurt begins. Now we no longer have to strain regular yogurt through a coffee filter to make it.

2009 The White House kitchen garden is planted in March and an interest in vegetables and sustainable eating skyrockets. Gluten free foods become a thing with $1.56 billion dollars in US sales, and projections of continuing breakneck growth.

2010 Welcome, instant pot! Now we can cook slow, fast or steam vegetables, make rice, etc, etc.  

2011 in June, the USDA replaces the Pyramid guide with My Plate, where vegetables and fruits fill half the dish and nudge grains to a smaller portion. First lady Michelle Obama announces it. Instagram arrives.

2013 Blue apron and other meal kit delivery services kickoff, making home cooking as easy as opening a box.

Jay-Z announces he’s doing a 22 day vegan challenge. Veganism officially becomes cool.

2016 Restaurant delivery services go mainstream: 50% of Americans report using apps like Grubhub and DoorDash to purchase meals from casual dining outlets, with 26% ordering at least once weekly.

2017 The Regenerative Organic Alliance releases its Regenerative Organ Certification Program, which incorporates soil health, animal welfare, and social justice in its eligibility criteria.

2018 Plant based milk sales have exploded, growing 61% in the last five years. The dairy industry is disturbed.

2019 the eat Lancet Commission releases its food in the Anthropocene report in January, linking our red meat and sugar heavy diets to climate change, and recommending we slash our consumption and eat more plant- based foods.

And now ,  Googling “nutrition” today gets over 1 billion hits but alas, 72% of Americans are overweight or obese based on Body Mass Indexes. Obesity becomes a risk factor for infectious disease, primarily COVID-19.

2020 Covid – 19 sweeps the world. Many Americans line up for miles at food distribution sites. Restaurants offer take out and deliveries, and small businesses teeter. Yet perseverance is everywhere, chefs, nonprofits, entire communities find ways to offer hope, and nourishing food. Restaurants rebound and talk dominates with who should wear masks; should schools open; are vaccines effective, should vaccinated people only have privileges?

This takes us to the present – 2021. The food culture will probably be changed forever.